Saturday, April 7, 2012

The CBA, Tortorella's Fine & Why He's Good For Business

New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella has been fined $20,000 for comments following a game against the Penguins.

Tortorella was slightly upset when Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik hit Rangers forward Derek Stepan knee-on-knee in the game’s final five minutes.

“It’s a cheap, dirty hit,” Tortorella said to reporters after the game. “I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen. So I’m anxious to see what happens with the league over this. Just no respect among players. None. It’s sickening.”

“It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens. It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they, starting with their two (expletive) stars.”

The CBA & Fines

The NHL’s authority to fine Torts $20K rests in Rule 33A, which is referenced in the CBA at Exhibit 8.6 (Procedures Relating To Commissioner Discipline). It reads as follows:

Rule 33A. Supplementary Discipline

In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these Rules, the Commissioner may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, Trainer, Manager, Coach or club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.

Does Torts Pay His Fine or Can the Team Pay It?

The fine is deducted from the coach’s salary. So Tortorella pays the fine and not the team.

What’s the NHL Foundation?

The fine money goes to the National Hockey League Foundation (see Article 26.4 of the CBA). The Foundation is the National Hockey League’s charitable and community relations organization, and a major component of the League’s youth hockey programming.

Tortorella: Good For Business

Yes the NHL fined Tortorella for his comments. However, in a marketplace as crowded as New York, Tortorella’s comments get attention. They also help set up the Flyers/Pens matchup as the marquee matchup of Round 1.

There is tension here between competing interests. On the one hand, it is important for the league to do its best to promote sportsmanship and seek discourage disparaging comments about other teams/players/brands. On the other hand, it wants to get attention in what sometimes seems like an NHL needle in a sports haystack.

You may not agree with what he says. Ultimately, though, Tortorella is good for business. 

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